For Top Cow's third Pilot Season, instead of offering half a dozen first issues by different creative teams, the company is putting out books created by Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri with a different artist illustrating each. Given both Kirkman and Silvestri's fanbase, this is a smart move to give this Pilot Season its own identity, separating it from the first two. The initial first issue of a possible series, "Murderer" has a solid concept at its core, but the execution is lacking in places.
Jason can hear what everyone around him is thinking. The issue begins with him waking up and hearing how little his grandma thinks of him. He's a loser, a deadbeat, she practically loathes him. While out, a man tries to rob him, but Jason freaks him out by revealing that he knows all about the thief's various hardships. However, as the thief runs away, we see that Jason was preparing to use a knife he carries on him, suggesting that this is more than a simple 'man hears thoughts' story. As the issue progresses, we learn that Jason is violent, that he kills, and that he does so for a reason.
"Murderer" has a very simple and smart concept in a killer who hears people's thoughts, but its star, Jason, remains somewhat of an enigma throughout. While he's obviously a cold, distant person, we don't learn a lot about who he is or what kind of person he really is. The distance between him and the reader is too far when this concept seems to call for a very direct, intimate relationship between the two. For all we hear of others' thoughts, we gain very little insight into what Jason thinks.
Another problem is in communicating the thoughts of others. Kirkman and artist Nelson Blake II make good attempts at showing the mix of words and images that make up thoughts, but it's not entirely effective. Often, what Jason hears/sees is confusing, perhaps purposefully so, but, if that's the case, then that confusion should be more explicit. As it stands, the thoughts Jason hears/sees are not presented clearly, particularly the thoughts of a woman that motivate much of the action in this issue.
Blake's art is clear and crisp. Together with Dave McCaig's colors, it has a sterile look to it that mirrors the coldness of Jason's personality. How much the coloring helps the art is apparently when we see the thoughts of others, which are colored in a solid blue and aren't nearly as impressive as the rest of the issue. Aside from the thought montages and some facial problems, Blake's art is strong and stands out thanks to McCaig's coloring.
"Pilot Season: Murderer" #1 has a strong hook, but doesn't develop the protagonist enough, nor does it depict his power to hear/see thoughts effectively. However, it does make me want to see more as the concept is good and I'm curious what a series about Jason would be like.